HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Waxwork/Waxwork II: Lost in Time
HTS Overall Score:72
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
Lionsgate unleashes their THIRD entry into the Vestron Video boutique collector’s edition lineup that they unveiled last month (or more accurately put, reintroduced into the market). Vestron Video was a classic lineup of horror movies from all over the time line and so far has brought us some very promising niche titles that really have been forgotten about and have some great looking audio and video specs. “Blood Diner” and “Chopping Mall” were an awesome opening one-two punch a few weeks back, but now Lionsgate unleashes a double feature (with some really cool reversible cover art and a nice clear Blu-ray case) in “Waxwork/Waxwork II: Lost in Time”. Both titles are amazing cheesefests and bring a nice dose of horror comedy to the table (although not nearly as comedic as “Blood Diner”).
The horrors of a wax museum have long since been heralded in horror films. The most famous being Vincent Price’s masterpiece, “House of Wax” (along with the remake starring Paris Hilton), but there is just something naturally creepy about the wax statues of even places like Madame Tussaud’s famed wax museum. Especially when you have a wax museum lorded over by a master of the dark arts whose sole intentions is to bring forth demonic forces to destroy the entire world. You know. You’re every day dark bad guy who wants the world to end for no apparent reason. Always makes sense (/sarcasm).
Sarah (Deborah Foreman) and her sultry friend, China (Michelle Johnson), happen by a waxworks museum that has just opened up in their neighborhood and get invited to a midnight showing. Despite the creepiness of the slightly deranged owner (played by David Warner), the duo decide to invite some friends and go to the creepy museum. Once there the six friends split off and explore the horrific and brutal looking wax sculptures. One such fellow steps across the rope dividing the guests from the statures only to be sucked into a different world where he comes across a werewolf (played by John Rhys Davies) and when devoured by the beast magically is transformed into a wax stature himself. This happens one by one to the unsuspecting teenagers until Sarah and Mark (Zack Galligan) decide to get out of there and find their friends.
On the outside world Mark and Sarah realize that their friends are nowhere to be found. Calling the police does no good as they police don’t seem to have any interest in finding a couple of teenagers that have been missing for a few hours. This prompts the two teenagers to start researching the mysteries of the wax museum and some disturbing information about the proprietor comes to life. Convinced that their 4 friends are trapped inside, or worse, the two go back by themselves to confront the monstrosities inside once and for all.
“Waxwork” is a gleefully tongue in cheek sort of horror. The vignettes inside where the teenagers meet their doom in the magical world of the wax creatures shows some gore and ridiculous amounts of blood, but it also winks and nods at the audience quite a bit as well. The vampire sequence with China is especially hilarious with a disgusting meal of human body bits covered in a tasty blood sauce, to a wildly over the top death sequence where China makes short work of one of the vampires and his brides. Even the final end battle with the demonic beasts and the rest of the spirit fighters is wildly over the top and in a level that borders on sheer comedy.
Not everything works with the film though. Dialog is painfully bad and the acting is something you would expect out of a high school play. Although, as much as I want to decry the film for that little issue, it adds to the charm and cheesiness factor in a way that keeps the grins coming and the giggles following shortly after.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=82842[/img]Waxwork II: Lost in Time :3stars:
“Waxwork II: Lost in Time” picks up right where the first movie left off. Both Mark and Sarah (Now played by Monika Schnarre) thought they had escaped the house of wax horrors with everything destroyed, but that was not the case. SPOILER!!!!! We all saw the severed zombie hand come crawling out of the rubble at the end and that hand has decided to follow Sarah home. Murdering her parents and family, Sarah is left trying to explain to the police how a severed hand did something like that and that naturally doesn’t come off very well to the police. Mark realizes what is happening and starts sifting through his Uncle’s late artifacts to see if he has any occult items that might help with clearing her name.
Thankfully he finds one such item that allows the two of them to travel to another dimension, where they might find what they’re looking for. Along the way they run into a myriad of crazy people as well as wax creations (something that makes very little sense being that the wax creations in the original movie were just props for summoning up evil spirits from the past. What they’re doing in another dimension is beyond me). What makes the gore fest fun is the change in movie and theater legends to more modern ones this go around. With the same director and writer it carries the same distinct feel as the vignettes play out with gory results, but instead of “The Phantom of the Opera” or “The Wolfman” etc, we have villains and creature from “Alien”, “Dawn of the Dead” and other such films that are more recent in history.
That newer and more modern take is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in regards to the crazy scenarios that are opened up (who doesn’t want to see something from “Alien” in a waxwork movie), but it also takes the tension out. We already know how this is going to end being that we saw the exact same thing unfold in the first movie. All of the suspense is gone. However, the real pull for this one is the quirky cameos by the actors. We get to see Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi from “Star Trek”) as well as Bruce Campbell (one of the best cameos) and other legends like David Carradine and Martin Kemp. There’s even a “so quick you might miss it” cameo with a young Drew Barrymore as well!
“Waxwork II: Lost in Time” is a whole lot of fun, and is certainly good campy fun, but it is a little bit too long in my opinion and could have been trimmed back to the classic “90 minutes or less for horror” if they had wanted to. As such, I still will give the nod to the original as the better of the two, but having both in one set is an amazing blessing for horror fanatics.
Not Rated by the MPAA / Rated R for comic horror violence, and for language.
Lionsgate’s 1080p Blu-ray encode is quite nice and certainly dwarfs the old DVD encode from back in the day. Colors are surprisingly vivid and robust, especially in the opening scene outside the waxwork museum at the start of the film. However, once into the film there is some inconsistencies that keep it from being as great as that brightly lit opening sequence. The bowels of the waxwork “dungeon” tends to be a bit grainy and shows some compression issues in those darker moments. Blacks are a bit smeary and detail tends to be softened. There’s also some very inconsistent grain patterns that show mild macroblocking. The back of the disc states that it was digitally restored, but none of the press releases list any new mastering or what was actually done. Still it looks quite a bit better than I initially expected and is definitely worth the new transfer.
Waxwork II: Lost in Time :3.5stars:
Much like “Waxwork”, the video encode for “Waxwork II: Lost in Time” is a very pleasing experience that certainly tromps the VERY cruddy looking VHS I had. In all honesty I don’t think “Waxwork II” ever got a DVD release (the original was only available in a big movie pack in 2012), so this is a very first for it. Either way, it is an impressive looking transfer that suffers from a few of the same flaws as its predecessor. Some of the blacks are a bit crushed and detail can get smeary. However the colors are warm and fairly vibrant throughout the film, and the black and white scenes look very nice. Contrast is a bit hot, but that doesn’t do much besides was some of the black levels out. Fine detail is generally good and I noticed a ton more detail than I’ve ever seen in the movie before. I can’t tell if it was remastered, but it certainly seems to have had some work done to it in the last 5 or 6 years.
The 2.0 DTS-HD MA track for the film is more than adequate at doing the job and actually rather pleasing. Of course we don’t get the benefit of a fully immersive 5.1 mix, but that is not a detriment as “Waxwork” was originally recorded in stereo. The dialog is crisp and clean, with no sounds of distortion or imbalance with the limited effects as well. The score is rich and full and the end battle adds a sense of chaos to the picture that was missing up until that point. The movie doesn’t exactly ask a WHOLE lot from the track, but everything it does, it does amazingly well. No sounds of crackling or distortion to be heard and a decent amount of imaging in the front two speakers.
Waxwork II: Lost in Time :4stars:
The same 2.0 DTS-HD MA track found on “Waxwork” is replicated in the sequel. Once again the dialog is strong and cleanly intelligible, while the limited sound effects make for a solid amount of imaging within the two speaker setup. There is a little LFE backed into the stereo track and there appears to be no imbalance in the mix or distortion due to age. Simply put. An impressive 2.0 track that isn’t required to do a whole lot, but does what is asked of it with relative ease.
• Audio Commentary With Anthony Hickox and Zach Galligan
• Isolated Score & Audio Interview With Composer Roger Bellon
• The Waxwork Chronicles
• Vintage “Making Of” Featurette
• Theatrical Trailer
• Still Gallery
Waxwork II: Lost in Time
• Audio Commentary With Anthony Hickox and Zach Galligan
• Isolated Score and Audio Interview With Composer Steve Schiff
• Music Video
• Theatrical Trailer
• Still Gallery
The “Waxwork” double feature from Vestron Video is one of the better releases from Lionsgate so far. Both films come in a great collectible packaging with reversible cover art and stylish casing. But not only that they come with a solid array of extras to please the fans. The video and audio encodes may not be blockbuster levels, but they are LEAGUES better than the old DVDs that I have lying around my horror shelf. Both films are awfully bad. But they are so awful that they end up being a whole barrel of fun. I may have to rate the films a 3/5 on a technical level, but my enjoyment factor for this duo of films is much higher than that. Definitely worth checking out.
Starring: Zack Galligan, Jennifer Bassey, Deborah Foreman, Monika Schnarre, Martin Kemp
Directed by: Anthony Hickox : Anthony Hickox
Written by: Anthony Hickox : Anthony Hickox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC / 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 (Music DD 2.0 for both films)
Rated: NR: R
Runtime: 95 minutes : 104 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: October 18th, 2016
Buy Waxwork/Waxwork II: Lost in Time Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Great Watch
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